When our daughter was three years old, she would take my chin in her little dimpled hand and turn my face toward hers before she made a request. She wanted to ensure she had my undivided attention when she asked for cookies or described something she saw outside.
Do you have that same desire in conversation? How do you feel when you’re talking, and the other person is obviously distracted? I’m sure you’ll agree that focusing on the speaker enhances comprehension.
What about listening to God? We don’t have to get His attention, but does He have ours—our undivided attention? He doesn’t force us to focus on Him, but He longs to teach us and encourage us.
Here are some thoughts about preparing to listen to God as we read the Bible, pray, and walk daily with Him.
Preparing to Listen to God
Position yourself to listen.
Whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, isn’t it exciting to set aside a quiet time in a comfortable place to read Bible passages and pray? When Spring arrives, I’ll move from the bedroom chair to the deck for my daily appointment with God. What’s your favorite place to sit with Him?
Once we’re physically positioned, tuning in to His voice prepares us to listen attentively. Checking our level of obedience and exchanging our will for God’s, paves the way for hearing from Him. My quiet times are more productive when I remember to set my heart to listen.
After a quiet time with the Lord—as we take care of daily responsibilities—we can keep our eyes and ears tuned to His messages.
Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!
Silence your phone and grab a cup of coffee or a glass of water as you head to your selected spot. Keep a notepad handy to jot down distracting thoughts. I call my notepad the “Rabbit Trail Pad” because my mind often hops to other thoughts or responsibilities when I sit still to hear from God. Anybody else? Just as I silence my phone to avoid distractions, I need to silence the voice of “me” and train my ears to listen.
Focus on God as you seek Him.
When we are in the presence of an expert on area where we have interest, we rivet our attention on the speaker, straining to catch each detail. I recently learned in a deeper way a truth about listening closely to God.
I desperately needed the Lord’s wisdom about a decision. Multiple times each day, I wondered what His direction would be as I prayed. The potential answer was uppermost in my mind. One morning, I read a statement written by Priscilla Shirer that changed my perspective.
Stop frantically searching for God’s will; start frantically searching for God Himself. 1
I needed my Father more than I needed an answer, but I had slipped into a bad habit of concentrating more on the response, on what I needed to learn, than on Him. I continued to ask for wisdom, but I fixed my attention on the Shepherd who would guide me.
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
Respond to what you hear.
As a teacher, I know that applying what we learn helps us remember. How can we apply the truths God shows us? Here are some ideas:
- When you are amazed by God’s goodness or love, sing a hymn or praise song to Him.
- When you marvel at His involvement with people in the Bible or answered prayer, tell Him.
- Record truths you learn in a journal to log your spiritual growth and to remind you of His messages.
- Write a verse you want to memorize on a card and post it on a mirror or at your desk.
Preparing to listen to God sharpens our spiritual sense of hearing. We can converse with Him at any moment, but taking time to listen attentively equips us to learn more about Him and His Word.
Sometimes I imagine God cupping my chin in His hand, tilting my face up to His, and saying,
Listen to Me, my daughter. I have important truths to tell you and I want to teach you more about Me. In our conversations, I long to give you peace and comfort, and because I am a good Father, I will also correct you when you disobey. Stop what you’re doing for a while and turn the eyes of your heart to Me. Come talk to me and listen to what I say.
Not only will listening for God’s voice bless our lives, but we can offer the encouragement of Christ to others as we learn more about Him. Please share the ways you prepare to listen to God.
What a good listener! 😉
1Shirer, Priscilla, Discerning the Voice of God: How to Recognize When God Speaks (Nashville: Lifeway Press, 2017), 62.
Bible verses are from the English Standard Version.